Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), inaugurated an exhibition entitled Tariqah (Pathway) hosted by the Barjeel Art Foundation at Maraya Art Centre on Friday, 21st of February.
The exhibition presents a collection of modern and contemporary Arab artworks inspired by Islamic art traditions. The artworks have been selected from the private collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation.
The opening ceremony was attended by Arif Al Nayedh, the Libyan Ambassador to the UAE, Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Badr Jafar, Managing Director of the Crescent Group, a number of artists from the regional art community, individuals interested in Islamic art, as well as media representatives. The exhibition coincides with the celebration of Sharjah as Capital of Islamic culture 2014.
Sheikha Bodour toured the exhibition and expressed her admiration of the artworks on display which presents different perspectives on Islam's rich traditions and reflects how the details of daily life inspire artists to spiritually contemplate and produce creative artworks that express their spiritual meditation. She pointed out that the private collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is among the most significant individual art collections in the emirate of Sharjah as it features some of the best contemporary artists in the Arab world.
She further remarked: "Sharjah is celebrating being named Capital of Islamic Culture this year and this exhibition is one of the individual initiatives being organised to celebrate this great Arabic and Islamic achievement. The exhibition serves to introduce the public to the spirit of Islamic art traditions and to show how much art and artists appreciate Islamic civilization." She also emphasised that throughout this year Sharjah would witness a multitude of activities which showcase the Emirate and region's cultural and art masterpieces and that such activities would be a platform to introduce others to true Arab and Islamic values.
Commenting on Tar?qah Exhibition, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation, said: "We are both pleased and honoured to present such an outstanding selection of contemporary Arab artworks, all of which have been inspired by the spirit of Islamic art traditions, in honour of Sharjah's selection as the Islamic Culture Capital of the Arab Region 2014." The curator of the exhibition added: "What truly sets this exhibition apart is the unique way in which each artist brings his or her own influences to pieces that are concurrently meditative and constructive. The exhibition clearly portrays the journey taken artists whose artistic expression is centred on diverse ways of viewing and referencing Islamic tradition." The word Tar?qah in Arabic translates into English as a pathway or route. The term encompasses both the pathway and the determination to reach a destination or an outcome. In Islamic culture it expresses the individual's spiritual journey through the performance of religious rituals. The artworks on display reflect the methods and artistic styles embraced by each artist in expressing his vision of Islamic traditions and religious rituals attained through daily practices.
One of the Iraqi artist Jamil Hamoudi,s works was exhibited to show how Hamoudi, who is one of the first contemporary artists to employ letters in painting, uses an entirely new approach to artistic composition to produce visual artwork that reflects both Arabic and Islamic heritage. His works showcase his ability to combine letters and words in an eye-catching and elaborate style above multi shaped and coloured backgrounds. The letter comes in light and calm colour to create a contrast between colour and shape on the background. His works celebrate the Arabic character and its high indicative values in Islamic culture. Arabic is the language of Holy Koran and the Islamic heritage and civilization.
A work of the great Egyptian artist Omar Al Najdi's, whose collectors have built an exclusive gallery to house his works in Paris, was also featured in the exhibition. Al Najdi is one of the artists who have significantly contributed to refresh elements of Islamic heritage. Religious rituals are clear in his work in which he uses the space to project the uniqueness of Islamic art. The themes of many of his creative works are inspired by Islamic architecture, religious practices, and verses from the Holy Koran.
The exhibition furthermore features a work by the late Iraqi artist Shakir Hassan Al Said whose works were inspired by Islamic myths, legends, and stories. He used Arabic letters as a method to express his inner meditations and mystical tendency. His paintings resemble philosophical statement, mystical vision or exploration approach that urge viewer to dive deep inside to explore the vivid imagination, yet with a hidden visual glare as it stores symbols and visions that form the work's aesthetic and creativity.
The Sharjah based Barjeel Art Foundation was established to manage, preserve and exhibit the personal art collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi. The foundation's guiding principle is to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent, publicly accessible art collection in the UAE. The foundation also aims to develop a public platform to foster critical dialogue around contemporary art practices with a focus on artists with Arab heritage internationally.
By hosting in-house exhibitions, lending artwork to international forums, producing print and online publications, and fashioning interactive public programmes, the foundation strives to serve as an informative resource for contemporary art by Arab artists both locally and on the global stage. The foundation is constantly striving to build and enrich the artist database and to establish partnerships with art and cultural foundations, locally, regionally and internationally.